COLUMBUS, Ohio — Despite it being Courtney Banghart’s 11th postseason appearance and UNC women's basketball's 29th NCAA Tournament appearance, the level of excitement for the Tar Heels this March is the same.
“(It) just never gets old, the opportunity that awaits, the magnitude of the event,” Banghart said in UNC’s press conference on Friday.
While last year’s experience — upsetting No. 4 seed Arizona in Tucson and going up against South Carolina in the Sweet 16 — provides UNC’s players with some confidence, the Tar Heels will face a tough road to advance to Seattle.
The first step in No. 6 seed North Carolina’s trek back to the Sweet 16 is its contest against No. 11 seed St. John’s at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
Against the Johnnies, the Tar Heels will need to pay particular attention to defending the perimeter and disrupting redshirt senior guard Jayla Everett’s flow.
Make Everett uncomfortable
The Red Storm roster includes three ACC transfers. Aside from the two former Notre Dame players in Danielle Cosgrove and Danielle Patterson, the most notable of the transfers is Everett — a former Pitt Panther who paces the team with 16 points per game.
Everett will be coming in hot, as her game-winning floater with .3 seconds on the clock sealed the Red Storm’s 66-64 victory over Purdue on Thursday in the NCAA Tournament First Four game.
“She has a ton of experience,” Banghart said. “The finality of your career (and) your athletic mortality is on full display here in the NCAA Tournament. She takes and makes a lot of tough shots."